Total Lunar Eclipse Before Dawn Wednesday, 8 October

Press Release From: McDonald Observatory
Posted: Tuesday, October 7, 2014

American skywatchers get a rare treat early October 8 -- the second total lunar eclipse of the year, according to the editors of StarDate magazine. The entire “total” phase of the eclipse is visible across all but a narrow strip of the East Coast.

The eclipse begins at 4:15 a.m. Central Daylight Time, when the Moon first touches Earth’s dark inner shadow. It’ll be fully immersed in the shadow about an hour later, beginning the total eclipse. The Moon will set while the eclipse is in progress as seen from the eastern half of the country. The western U.S., including Alaska and Hawaii, will see the whole thing.

High-resolution graphics showing eclipse times for four U.S. time zones are available online at StarDate’s Media Center: There, you can also sign up to receive advanced e-mail notices of future skywatching events.

A lunar eclipse occurs when the full Moon passes through Earth’s long shadow. The Moon’s orbit is tilted slightly compared to Earth’s orbit around the Sun, though, so most months the Moon passes a little above or below the shadow. An eclipse occurs only when the geometry is just right.

On average, there are about two lunar eclipses a year, although not all of them are total -- in some eclipses, the shadow covers only part of the lunar disk. Any given spot on Earth will see an average of about one eclipse a year, and all or part of a total eclipse about once every other year. So seeing two total eclipses in one year is rare.

Rebecca Johnson
Editor, StarDate magazine
+1 512-475-6763

Published bi-monthly by The University of Texas at Austin McDonald Observatory, StarDate magazine provides readers with skywatching tips, sky maps, beautiful astronomical photos, astronomy news and features, and a 32-page Sky Almanac each January.

Established in 1932, the McDonald Observatory near Fort Davis, Texas, hosts multiple telescopes undertaking a wide range of astronomical research under the darkest night skies of any professional observatory in the continental United States. McDonald is home to the consortium-run Hobby-Eberly Telescope, one of the world’s largest, which is currently being upgraded for the forthcoming HET Dark Energy Experiment. An internationally known leader in astronomy education and outreach, McDonald Observatory is also pioneering the next generation of astronomical research as a founding partner of the Giant Magellan Telescope.

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